Legislation to increase tuition at Louisiana’s public medical schools and dental school received final legislative approval Wednesday.
House Bill 628 joins legislation authorizing community and technical college cost hikes as the only tuition measures approved this year by the state Legislature.
HB628 allows the LSU Schools of Medicine in New Orleans and Shreveport, as well as the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans, to increase tuition by up 5 percent for five years, as long as they do not exceed Southern regional averages.
LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans lists its in-state tuition and fees at more than $15,000 a year.
The Louisiana State Medical Society’s Medical Student Section opposed HB628 because the schools are already authorized to increase tuition 10 percent from last year’s LA GRAD Act legislation. The 5 percent could come on top of the 10 percent.
State Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, called the cumulative cost hikes “prohibitive” for students, especially when many chose the LSU schools because of their relatively low costs.
“It’s a very modest increase,” argued state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.
He said the School of Dentistry is the cheapest of its kind nationally and that the medical schools are among the most affordable as well.
State Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, said the tuition revenues are to help fund medical service programs in rural parts of the state.
HB628 was approved Wednesday on a 33-3 vote after previously failing to gain the votes needed for passage.
The legislation heads to the governor’s desk, along with House Bill 526 that would increase and standardize most tuition costs at the state’s community and technical colleges.
The legislation would allow the Capital Area Technical College, for instance, to phase in tuition increases over three years that would double its annual tuition and fees from $1,000 to $2,000 for full-time students.
The state’s growing community colleges also would standardize their mandatory tuition and fees to almost $2,400 a year for full-time students, not counting student-approved fees.
With its extra athletics and student government fees though, BRCC is currently projecting about $2,715 in full-time costs for the next school year.